Baby,  Toddler

How we’ve ditched the dummy – and all of Spike’s excuses for not sleeping since

Around 18 months ago I spoke about ditching the dummy. Spike had just turned two and we’d managed to get her to only have her dummy at nap and bedtimes. I thought it would be a few months or so after that when she gave it up completely. But I was wrong.

Bedtime dummy

Spike transitioned well from having her dummy all the time to just having it at bed and nap times. There were a few meltdowns but all in all within a week she was fine. However whenever I tried to get her to sleep without it all hell broke loose. It was only when she was that tired she completely crashed that she would sleep without it.

Giving up nap time

Around 6 months after the transition from dummy all the time to dummy just at sleepy times, Spike gave up her nap. It was a testing time for us all as we adjusted to the very sleepy monster we brought home from nursery every evening. She wanted to go to bed as soon as we got in from nursery and slept (kinda) though til we pretty much had to go back! There was very little none-dummy time for her at home as Monday-Friday all she did at home was sleep.

Broken sleeper

Spike has never been great at sleeping and tired Spike is THE WORST to get to sleep. I put off taking her dummy away because there was so much drama at bedtime and through the night as there was. It wasn’t until September last year that she started sleeping through the night more than once a week… and thats when I realised that it meant she didn’t actually really need her dummy anymore. She wasn’t waking up and crying for it when it had fallen off the bed. Instead she was just going back to sleep.

Introducing the idea of no more dummy

I started talking to Spike about giving her dummy up months ago. I suggested that she could just leave it on her shelf one night and then she would know where it was if she woke up in the night. But that didn’t work. I then suggested we drop it off at a local hospital for new babies to have it… but that didn’t work either. Then one day, after a car journey with her cousin who is just under a year older than her, she asked for a ‘big car seat’. She was still in a rear facing, first group car seat and wanted to face forward like a big girl, like her cousin did in his. Thats when I had an idea.

Santa’s exchange

I told her that she could have a big girl car seat when she gave her dummy up as that made her a really big girl. Explaining that Santa would be visiting on Christmas Eve, I gave her the option to leave her dummy for him, and get the seat in return. It worked, she was excited about the prospect and even helped me pick out which car seat she wanted him to bring. As the weeks went on she got more and more excited. Then about a week before Christmas she started the stories.

Santa’s sleigh

We were reminding her that her dummy would be going with Santa every so often and explaining that it would help ‘new babies’ as he could take it to them. And in her wild, imaginative 3 year old way, she spun it all of a sudden to work in her favour. “It’s ok,” she said one bedtime “because on Christmas Eve, I’ll just join Santa on his sleigh and make him give me my dummy back”. And the stories got more and more elaborate!

Christmas eve

Christmas eve came and as we put the plate of things out for Santa I asked Spike to get her dummy from upstairs. She was excited, she rarely goes upstairs on her own but she ran up, got it and ran back down shouting “I’ve got it, it’s here!” We left it on the plate and went up to bed for her story. It was going great until she went to lie down and turned to get the dummy off the shelf it lived on.

One hour meltdown

As if Christmas Eve wasn’t already a pain for getting kids to sleep… it took her an hour of crying and upset before she went to sleep! I was exhausted, T was exhausted and we were wondering what we were meant to do! We sorted the presents out, put the car seat next to the plate which her dummy was on, downed the baileys left for santa and, crucially, threw the dummy in the wheelie bin outside. We were determined not to go back on it all.

An early Christmas morning

Christmas morning began with a meltdown at 5:15am. She wanted her dummy and was refusing to go back to sleep. We kept going in and out of her room for an hour with no luck in getting her back to sleep then finally gave in and took her downstairs. She saw the car seat first and was so excited for it… then opened the rest of her presents throughout the morning. It was a slow process but the dummy wasn’t mentioned again for most of the morning.

The story since

That evening she asked for it again but I explained that it had gone. She went to sleep fine but woke me at 3am crying saying she was sad because she missed her dummy. I comforted her and then left the room to allow her to sleep. For a few days after we were at my mums and she settled relatively easy but woke in the night a lot, which is always the case when we stay there. Once back home we had a morning meltdown and these are continuing, but its only been a week since her dummy was left for Santa and they are getting less frequent and shorter for sure.

Changing routines and habits

It’ll take a while to return to what we had, but I think Spike has done so well for giving up her bedtime comfort so quickly. We’re three weeks since giving it up now and she’s getting there. She’s had it all her life pretty much and its a difficult thing to give up. I knew it was needed as it was starting to do damage to her teeth and cause problems with her attitude so I am glad we’ve finally got to a point where I can see the end of it. I just need her to sleep now, but I’ve pretty much always needed that so it’ll come eventually, dummy or no!

My tips for getting your child to give up their dummy

Do it early. I actually believe that had I made Spike give up her dummy 18 months ago it would have been less painful and less expensive! I don’t think I would have had to bribe her and the meltdowns and wake ups would have been over quicker!
If you’ve left it a bit longer like we did though, speak to you child. Explain to them the reason its best to give their dummy up now. Tell them where it’s going and if needed, give them something in return. I’ve heard of dummy trees for dummy fairies, giving them to birthday fairies, giving them to Santa… all sorts. It helps knowing that they are losing one thing but gaining another. I think the way we did it, with an item which she could see meant another chapter in her life, helped because it reinforced the idea that she was growing up and thats why she no longer needed her dummy.